Apologies, misogynist that I am I missed this last week when we were supposed to commiserate about Equal Pay Day. That being the day of the year when women stop being paid given that they earn so much less than men. There is really one one minor problem with this idea which is that we don't in fact have a gender pay gap in either the US or the UK. We have, as I've said many a time, a motherhood pay gap instead. And no, given that not all women are or will become mothers that is not the same as a gender pay gap.
Depressingly, we've all known about the gender pay gap for far too long. 40 years and counting. And yet here, on this special annual Day, we're all still talking about the same old issues: one, we need a culture change; two, we need more flexible working; three, we need greater transparency; four, companies should publish their gender pay gaps; five, large and small businesses should understand the business case for employing more women … I could go on.
40 years ago we most certainly did have a gender pay gap. Women were directly discriminated against in their pay, their education and even their taxation (it wasn't until the late 80s that a woman was, finally and rightly, considered as a taxable economic unit separate from however she decided to run her love life). But that has all now changed.
Women who work part time earn more than men who work part time. Women in their 20s earn more than men in their 20s. Women who don't marry and don't have children earn more than men. What kills the average wage of all women, in comparison to the wage of all men, is that women, and it's important to note that this is on average, take career breaks to have children and often then either more time off or lighter workloads to raise them.
We might want to say that this isn't a good idea. We might think that it's just fine that people who make different life decisions earn different amounts of money. But what this isn't is a gender pay gap. And anyone who wants to change matters has to recognise that it isn't a gender pay gap so it isn't something that is going to be changed by blathering on about gender. It's about children and the having of them. And, if we're to be honest about it all, as long as more women than men decide that they want to take those breaks and changed workloads in order to raise their children then we're always going to have that motherhood pay gap.
Whether it's a good or bad thing is entirely reliant upon your personal definitions of good or bad. But could we all at least recognise reality?